Thanksgiving for Canadians is a feast celebrating our harvest – a final good-bye to summer and an acknowledgement of the autumn and winter months ahead. This happens around a table groaning with produce from the fields – squashes, pumpkins, cranberries, apples, corn, potatoes, peppers – all transformed into special recipes for this occasion. Whether you follow the same traditions each year to celebrate or want to sample something new, here are some ideas from Foodland Ontario to help you with this thank-you menu.
Broccoli and cauliflower au gratin
At this time of year, Ontario cauliflower and broccoli are at their peak and reasonably priced. Enjoy them in this simple make-ahead casserole, au gratin (with cheese-flavoured breadcrumbs), ideal for entertaining or toting to a celebration.
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
1 clove garlic, halved
2 cups (500 mL) fresh breadcrumbs, (about 3 slices bread)
1/3 cup (75 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
6 cups (1 ½ L) each, broccoli and cauliflower florets
3 tbsp (45 mL) each, butter and all-purpose flour
2 cups (500 mL) milk
1 ¼ (300 mL) fresh grated Parmesan cheese or old cheddar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) Herbes de Provence or thyme
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each, fresh black pepper and salt
In large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add garlic and cook for one minute; remove and discard garlic. Stir in breadcrumbs, coating well. Stir in cheese. Set aside.
Bring large pot of water to boil. Cook broccoli and cauliflower three to four minutes or until tender-crisp. Drain well. Arrange in single layer in 12 cup (3 L) casserole dish sprayed with baking spray.
Sauce: In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour; cook, stirring until it becomes a pale brown and starts to pull away from pan, about two to three minutes. Gradually whisk in milk until mixture comes to boil. Stir in cheese, herbs, pepper and salt. Pour over vegetables. Sprinkle evenly with reserved breadcrumb mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to re-heat or immediately re-heat at 350˚ F (180˚ C) for 20 minutes. If heating from the refrigerator allow an extra 15 minutes. Serves 10 to 12.
Herb Roast Turkey with Cranberry Pecan Stuffing
Choose a fresh Ontario turkey for this delectable main course. Although this recipe serves eight to 10, you can double the recipe for a crowd. Likewise, if you are a small family, use a 4 to 5 lb (2.2 kg) roasting chicken and halve the recipe.
1 fresh turkey (10 lb/ 5 kg)
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter or vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 cups (2 L) dry bread cubes, preferably whole-wheat
1 cup (250 mL) coarsely choppedpecans, toasted (350˚ F/180˚ C for 10 minutes)
1 cup (250 mL) cranberries, chopped
1/3 cup (75 mL) fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) each, chopped fresh sage and summer savory
Approximately 1/4 cup (60 mL) sodium-reduced chicken broth
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter at room temperature
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh garlic
1 tbsp (15 mL) each, chopped fresh rosemary, summer savory and thyme
Stuffing: In Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and celery. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about six minutes. Stir in garlic; cook one minute. Stir in bread cubes to coat well. Remove from heat, stir in pecans, cranberries, parsley, sage and savory. Stir in enough broth to lightly moisten bread. Set aside.
Herb Butter: In small bowl, blend together butter, garlic, rosemary, savory and thyme. Set aside.
Prepare turkey by removing gibbets, rinse inside and out; pat dry with paper towel. Fill neck cavity with some stuffing; close and secure skin with small metal skewer. Place remaining stuffing in main cavity. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Get under breast skin with fingers to loosen. Spread 1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 mL) herb butter under each side of breast. Spread 2 tbsp (30 mL) over entire top. Melt remaining butter to use for basting.
Place turkey on rack in roasting pan; tent with foil, tucking in sides but leaving ends open. Roast in 350˚ F (160˚ C) oven for about three and a half hours, basting with melted herb butter. Remove foil to brown during last 30 minutes (cover legs and stuffing with foil if needed.) Insert meat thermometer in thickest part of inner thigh, not touching bone. Turkey is done when thermometer reaches 185˚ F (85˚ C). Transfer turkey to large carving board and let stand 15 minutes. Remove stuffing from both cavities into warm serving dish. Make gravy with drippings.
Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer ~ email@example.com